If familiarity breeds contempt, it's vital we keep our eyes open to keep learning and discovering together with our spouse.
When we first fall in love, our relationship is naturally full of passion, curiosity, discovery, and excitement. While relationships change and mature over time, it doesn’t mean we can’t still experience those aspects of love; it might just take a little more effort. Here are some concrete tips that can help:
Labels are for jars, not people.
Often, we label ourselves, forcing ourselves into a box defined by contrast to other roles, particularly to that of our spouse. Assuming such rigid roles makes it difficult for a couple to evolve.
Pay attention to your partner’s needs, likes, and preferences.
Throughout our lives as a couple, we continue to discover aspects of each other’s personality. Couples never truly finish getting to know each other. That leads us to the next point:
Be curious about each other.
Sharing secrets and our innermost thoughts and feelings is pleasurable because it allows us to surprise each other every day with aspects of ourselves that the other may not know. Showing curiosity about our spouse is a way of keeping the relationship interesting.
Be open to new interests and activities.
If we’re not curious about each other, then despite all the time we spend together as a couple, we may continue to be guided by preconceived ideas about each other that blind us to what our spouse is actually like today. Maybe your spouse would love to learn how to cook, but you discourage them, or insist on doing the cooking yourself; or you would like to learn how to repair a car, but your spouse doesn’t consider it because it’s easier to pay someone else to do it. We have to appreciate the value of change and be open to new ideas and activities, and to our spouse not being exactly the way we think they are, or the way they were when we met years ago. Otherwise, we can get stuck in a rut, and hold on to an inaccurate picture of what makes our spouse happy.
Grow together, not apart.
Doing new things is good, but one of the main dangers to a stable relationship is an inability to find projects you can do together. When we began to date our spouse, we dreamed about the things we’d do and the places we’d go together. Have any of those dreams come true? Are there any of them we can do now? Joining each other in activities and dreams is one of the most effective ways to keep a relationship alive.
Go exploring together.
Life, both in general and as a couple, is more interesting if we aren’t limited to doing things that are familiar, but are open to new experiences. Although it’s easier to accept novelty when you’re in an established and stable relationship than if you’re at the beginning of your life together, we should always be open to widening our horizons. If we take the leap to go to new places and do new things from time to time, we’ll come back home with more energy and shared experiences that strengthen our bond.
Show your love with little surprises.
They say that life is made up of little details. Buying flowers from time to time or inviting your spouse to eat at a favorite restaurant, without it having to be on a special occasion, are small but effective surprises. It’s always good for the couple to give each other gifts without needing any other motive or occasion than love.
Put your heart and soul into everything you do together as a couple. Passionate people aren’t afraid to live intensely. Don’t distrust your emotions; enjoy each other’s company, share your feelings, and commit to giving each other your all.
Love is built day by day through fidelity and self-giving. This is why it’s important to strengthen our commitments as a couple to give the best of ourselves to each other in our relationship. Love creates more love.